Uncontrolled intersections in Muscatine County will remain as is.
This was after a motion made by Supervisor Danny Chick to control all the four-way uncontrolled intersections this year in the county failed to pass with a 3 – 2 vote during the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, May 22. Supervisor Kirck Kirchner was the only other board member to vote in favor of Chick’s motion.
Before Chick made the motion, Muscatine County Engineer Bryan Horesowsky spoke out against taking any action on the uncontrolled intersections. He was unable to attend the meeting the week before when there was discussion about having a policy addressing uncontrollable intersections.
“There was a lot of discussion brought up about potential policy,” he said. “That raised some concerns for me. Any type of policy that would be drafted would have to reference the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices), which is a national document.”
If a policy would have different constraints from what the manual has it would open the county and the engineer’s office to liability, Horesowsky said.
Muscatine County Attorney Jim Barry agreed with Horesowsky and told the supervisors creating a different policy from the MUTCD was problematic for the county.
“When you create a policy that is different than what’s been established or used you create the possibility you don’t have everything covered or you don’t do something particularly well,” Barry said. “I think from the standpoint of a policy, the policy that we have that’s in play now is probably what we should continue forward from a legal standpoint.”
Besides the policy issue, putting up yield or stop signs at all of the uncontrolled intersections becomes a financial issue, he added. If the supervisors decided to move forward with that Barry said in his opinion he would do them all.
Supervisor Jeff Sorensen asked Berry if the policy the county uses is the defined by the MUTCD handbook.
Barry replied yes.
Sorensen asked Barry if the board decided to control all the intersections in the county would it be a separate public policy?
“There’s the policy of how do you analyze an uncontrolled intersection,” Barry replied. “The current process is what everybody uses but one county in Iowa that’s made their decision to control all uncontrolled intersections. In my mind there’s no reason to create another policy. We have a policy.”
The decision before them that day was does the board want to control all the intersections in the county, Barry added.
Horesowsky said even if the supervisors move forward with controlling all the intersections there would still be some intersections that would be uncontrollable according to the MUTCD.
Chairman Scott Sauer asked Horesowsky how intersections are defined controllable or uncontrollable. Horesowsky said a traffic study would be done and then an engineer would look at the intersection.
Supervisor Nathan Mather asked Horesowsky if the supervisor made a policy to control all the intersections they would use the MUTCD manual. Horesowsky said this was correct.
The supervisors could decided to do all the four-way intersections, three-way intersections or do some of both but would leave the county liable, Mather added.
“The roads that are currently signed, those were determined by traffic studies in the past?” Supervisor Kirk Kirchner asked Horesowsky.
Horesowsky said it’s been so long that he honestly didn’t know. There could have been traffic studies done, regarding of the road done or a number of other issues.
“Do you have any idea total how many intersections the county has?” Mather asked Horesowsky.
“No,” Horesowsky replied.
At the end of the day, the law still stands, Sauer said. You yield to the right.
Chick made his motion to control all the four-way intersections in the county this year using the remainder of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. He added that the county engineer put $10,000 in his budget each year to get the 25 three-way intersections controlled until it’s complete.
“Do we have the manpower to do it all in the first years?” Mather asked.
“Probably not,” Chick replied.
Mather asked Chick how the intersections would be prioritized. Chick said that would be up to Horesowsky.
“I think that puts him in a position of liability to make a decision,” Mather said.
Directing any of the staff to make a decision regarding policy is dangerous, he added.
Sauer said doing this would be in conflict of the MUTCD manual and didn’t like it.
“Then you probably shouldn’t support the motion,” Chick said.
“That is a great idea,” Sauer replied.
The motion failed with a 3 – 2 vote. Supervisors Mather, Sauer and So